Teach Your Teen to Drive Lesson 8: Prevent Distracted Driving

Teen drivers are some of the most easily distracted drivers on the road. A lack of driving experience along with use of electronic devices, eating or drinking, talking to other passengers and even changing the radio station can cause a danger to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Follow our weekly summer series on teaching your teen how to drive — sharing these important driving tips in small doses may help you and your teen cover more ground.

Avoid Distractions While Driving

The statistics are alarming: in 2014, over 3,000 people were killed, and 431,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Teenagers make up the largest proportion of drivers reported as distracted at the time of a fatal crash.

Common Problems

Driving distractions come in many forms — a quick change to your radio station, air conditioning or mirrors may seem inconsequential. Turning your head to speak with another passenger, or reaching for your cell phone to check on a call or message might feel natural. But removing your hands from the steering wheel or your eyes from the road, even for just a few seconds, can break your focus, decrease your reaction time and create a potentially dangerous situation.

You might also be distracted if you drive the same routes over and over again. As a new driver, your teen might become complacent while navigating familiar streets, intersections or downtown areas.

Share the following tips with your teen:

  • Make any adjustments inside the vehicle while the car is parked, before you begin driving.
  • No matter where you’re driving, remember to keep an eye on your surroundings and always expect the unexpected.
  • If a passenger is causing you to lose your focus while driving, ask them to lower their voice or wait until you’ve parked the car to continue your conversation.
  • Consider turning your cell phone off while driving so you’re not tempted to check calls or text message notifications.
  • If you’re not awake, alert and focused, you shouldn’t be driving.

Texting and Driving

According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), cell phone use behind the wheel continues to be highest among 16 to 24-year-old drivers. It’s imperative that you teach your new driver the importance of putting away personal electronic devices and minimizing any other distractions while driving.

Many of our daily tasks involve the use of digital devices, so discouraging cell phone use can be difficult as we grow more and more connected to technology. Our cell phones have become essential in communicating with others and for looking up information whenever we need it.

Regardless of how important our cell phones are, attentive driving must always come first. Using a cell phone while driving, especially to send a text message, causes your teen to take their eyes off the road and lose focus of what’s happening ahead of and directly surrounding the vehicle.

Your Role as Driving Instructor

You can help your teen driver make safe driving decisions when it comes to cell phone use by taking the following steps:

  • Remind your teen that using their cell phone while driving is not only dangerous, it could be against the law, and may result in a suspended license.
  • Set a good example when you are the one driving — store your cell phone away in a bag or glove compartment.
  • Create hard and fast rules around cell phone use while driving. If your teen breaks those rules, enforce strong consequences like taking away their personal phone or use of the car.
  • Tell them “It can wait” — encourage your teen to take the pledge to never text and drive.

Your teens can also earn rewards for safe driving. Learn more about MetLife Auto & Home’s Drive Safe and Cash In program.

Key Lesson

Take the time to speak with your teen driver about the importance of eliminating distractions while driving, and review the laws in your state regarding cell phone use and driving.

This article contains information from The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Learn more about this important topic at http://www.distraction.gov/

Need to review a previous driving lesson? Start here.